Central Federal District
Time: Moscow Time Zone (MSK/MSD).
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Federal district: Central Federal District.
Main cities: Desnogorsk, Vyazma, Gagarin, Roslavl, Safonovo, Yartsevo and Dorogobuzh.
Land and Resources: The Smolensk oblast is situated in the center of the East European plain, in the extreme west of the Russian Federation. Smolensk oblast borders Pskov Oblast in north, Tver Oblast in northeast, Moscow Oblast in east, Kaluga Oblast and Bryansk Oblast in south, and also Mahilyow Voblast and Vitsebsk Voblast in Belarus, to the west and northwest. Its area is 49,786 square kilometers.
In the center and in the east hills prevail, they are divided by deep engraved river valleys. The hills are crossed by a great number of rivers and brooks. 60 per cent of the territory is washed by the rivers of the Dnieper system, 25 per cent – by the basin of the Western Dvina. About 50 lakes in Smolensk region have glacial origin.
Climate: Climate is temperate continental. Summer is warm (the average temperature in July is + 17-18°C. Winter is moderately cold (the average temperature in January is – 8,5°C). In the earlier times forests covered the whole territory of Smolensk region, presently they occupy about one fifth of its total area.
Transportation: The main transport junctions of the region are Smolensk and Vyazma. There are railway connections with Moscow, Minsk, Brest, Riga, Orel and other regions. Public transport consists of buses, marshrutkas, trams and trolleybuses. There are two airports in Smolensk.
Smolensk, this walled city was destroyed several times throughout its long history since it was on the invasion routes of both Napoleon and Hitler. The name of the city is derived from the name of the Smolnya Rivulet. Smolensk has been a special place to Russians for many reasons, not least for the fact that the local cathedral housed one of the most venerated Orthodox icons, attributed to St Luke. Building the new Cathedral of the Assumption was a great project which took more than a century to complete.
The region is rich in historical and cultural monuments, which number about 400.000. Among the archeological monuments the most famous are the Gnezdovski Barrows, the monuments of architecture of pre-Mongol period – the churches of XII century of Michael the Archangel and of Saints Peter and Paul. One of the earliest and rear Russian architectural monuments, having the greatest value, is the church of St. John the Baptist. The Smolensk fortress wall is the greatest achievement of Russian ancient architecture and military engineering art of the end of XVI century and the peak of the architectural art of the Russian architect Fyodor Kon. To the unique monuments of XVIII century belongs the Cathedral of the Assumption. There have been preserved some of the gentry`s country estates.
The Smolensk land is closely connected with Russian military history. Here a great number of monuments dedicated to the Great Patriotic War of 1812 has been preserved.
A cultural centre, created at the end of XIX and the beginning of XX century by a well-known public figure, collector and artist the Princess M.K.Tenisheva, is located in the village of Talashkino. At different time it was visited by I.Repin, A.Benois, M.Vrubel, N.Reorich, I. Stravinsky.
The region has a widely spread net of museums. One of them, is the unique museum-estate of A.S. Griboedov in the village of Khmelita, having one of the largest territories in Russia. Among the most valuable ones are the village of Gorodok – the birth place of Admiral P.S.Nakhimov, museum-estate of M.I.Glinka in the village of Novospasskoye,the memorial museum of Y.A.Gagarin, the memorial museum of M.V.Isakovsky in the town of Vskhody in Ugransky rayon.
There are a great number of old estates on the territory of the oblast. The family estates of M.V.Glinka and A.S.Griboedov have been restored, a lot of guests visit the historical-architectural complex “Teremok” (the estate of M.K.Tenisheva), the home-museum of N.M.Przhevalsky.
The Smolensk oblast owns a unique natural-recreational potential. On the territory of the oblast there have been created the national park “Smolenskoye poozerie”, which is notable for a large number of lakes and untouched areas of fir-and-deciduous forests. The creation of the park gave rise to the development of organized ecological tourism, enjoying popularity both with Russian and foreign guests.
The celebrated Uspensky Cathedral is located in Smolensk; and there are five other churches besides the cathedral. And of course there is Smolensk Fortress, surrounded on all sides by wonderful natural landscapes.
Every historical age has left its mark on Smolensk Region, from ancient burial mounds (kurgans) and settlements to 12th-century architecture, fortress walls, churches, and monasteries.
Encarta World Atlas
http://admin.smolensk.ru - Official Site of the Administration of Smolensk Region